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In The Cowboys, Nobody Wants to Work (For John Wayne) – Old western – My Blog

It’s not exactly true that the Western ever died. People are still making movies with Stetsons and Peacemakers, still robbing trains or waiting for the soundtrack to tell them when it’s okay to draw. If you want to watch those movies, they’re available and just look completely different: They may center actors of a different race than the usual Hollywood Western (The Harder They Fall, Django Unchained), or center a female perspective rather than a male one (Jane Got A Gun, The Nightingale), or play the genre for laughs (The Sisters Brothers, A Million Ways To Die in the West). It helps if you have the Coen brothers interested in making it (the quite good True Grit remake or their bizarre The Ballad of Buster Scruggs).The “oater”—the straightforward, cow-punching movie about a bygone era where the West meant freedom for white dudes and we’re totally fine with that—has become a thing of the past as far as major studios are concerned. And by 1972, it must have seemed that way to a guy like John Wayne, the actor who represented everything about the Western that the genre has discarded. Clint Eastwood, who by then was world famous as the smoking, poncho-wearing Man With No Name, said he once received a letter from Wayne in reference to the 1973 film High Plains Drifter, in which Eastwood said Wayne told him he didn’t like it and that it wasn’t about the people who really pioneered the West. As Eastwood recalled, he realized Wayne was of a different generation and would not have understood that a movie like High Plains Drifter was more of a fable.

When you put 1972’s The Cowboys into context with a movie like High Plains Drifter—when you consider it came out two years after El Topo, or three years after Once Upon A Time in the West and The Wild Bunch, or nearly a decade after Sergio Leone and Eastwood’s trilogy of films first came out in Europe—you have to believe part of the motivation for making it was stubbornness on somebody’s part.This is a Western about men who are men, and boys who must become men or die (one of them does actually die). It is a Western in which the trail is hard and the pay is shit, but you’re only a real man if you can take it. It is a Western in which the sympathetic white characters call the sympathetic Black character the N-word with a hard R, but the movie tells us they aren’t as racist about it as the real bad guys. It is a movie that features Robert Carradine and A Martinez as child actors, and Bruce Dern having an honest to goodness bloody fistfight with John Wayne. I kind of love it and never want it to change.It’s some time after the Civil War and some time before the government declared the American frontier settled in 1910, and Wil Andersen (Wayne) is in trouble. He has several hundred head of cattle that need to get 400 miles to market, and he’s short of hired hands. The ones currently working for him want to go pan for gold, lured by the possibility of a job that could potentially pay more and presumably feature Andersen barking at them less. When they ask to go check it out and then come back if they find a better deal, he tells them to blow off and never come back. Why, he laments, does nobody want to work anymore?When the job market is poor, there are any number of things employers might do to entice potential hires. Raising wages is a popular one, as is offering things like referral bonuses for current employees or sign-on bonuses for new hires. Alternately, you could just hire minors, who don’t complain as much. Andersen is reticent when a friend suggests that to him, and even more so when he visits the local one-room schoolhouse to take a look at his new hires. The teacher lets him in without complaint—this being, as she literally puts it, a man’s world. If an employer needs to come recruit at your school, you should give him the room.(Does he need to talk to any of the girls, asks the teacher? No, Wayne says, he hasn’t got anything to say to girls.)Andersen can’t resist the kids’ collective moxie, so he hires on his young charges, as well as a wandering cook, Jebediah Nightlinger (the inimitable Roscoe Lee Browne, who is the best actor in every scene he’s in). Nightlinger is Black, and the boys have somehow never seen a Black man before. He’s bafflingly accommodating of their ignorance about his anatomy.As they hit the trail, Andersen also takes under his wing the wild child Cimarron (Martinez, ready to cuss and drink and fight) and runs into some other prospective workers that include Bruce Dern, as sleazy as he’s looked in anything he’s made in the half-century since. Dern and his fellows are former convicts, and Wayne looks like maybe he’s going to hire them, except that Dern lied about it. Having failed his background check, Dern slinks off, to return later in the film.By this point, the boys have learned the ropes and broken themselves in on the trail. We’ve watched their camaraderie, watched them learn things, and actually seen some shots that seem as if the young actors really are ridin’ and ropin’. One of them dies suddenly and tragically on the job—it’s the one time everybody is allowed a moment of silent reflection. The rest of the time, tough love is the order of the day: One kid with a stutter has a tough time informing Wayne that Robert Carradine has fallen into a river. Wayne helps him get over his stutter by making the kid swear at him a whole bunch (and it works! The first time! Forevermore, he is cured of a speech impediment!).It’s a lot of fun, these scenes of kids palling around with Wayne and Browne, learning things and making mistakes, and it seems like Wayne’s character will even soften to them by the end of the movie, perhaps come away changed by his encounter—a wiser, softer man. This is not what happens! At all!When Bruce Dern returns with a huge posse of baddies, it is to capture Andersen’s herd and menace everybody at gunpoint. Andersen is too proud to just roll over, of course, so he and Bruce Dern bust each other’s lips. Dern loses the fistfight and in anger, shoots Andersen to death and leaves the boys in the wilderness. These kids murder the cattle rustlers with guns mere seconds before the bad guys lynch Nightlinger. They get the cattle to market, prove themselves as men, and then place a stone marker out on the prairie for Andersen, their adoptive father.In case you didn’t know they were real men, the boys must deal with Dern, who lies before them broken beneath his horse, captive and not a threat to them at all after they, I am serious, blast holes through his entire posse. You think for a moment there will be some mercy for him. Readers, there is none.This is the Old West. It’s a tragedy that this time, Andersen’s time, is over, but he’s raised the next generation of hard-ass bosses, the men who are going to think about their own hard-ass upbringing and reason that if it was good for them, it’s good for the next kid.The Cowboys is a relic now and it was a relic when it came out, but what a relic it is. It is every gorgeous vista under an endless sky, every clenched jaw before a gunfight, every dry one-liner delivered by the Duke that you could possibly ask for, with actors who bridge the gap between the Hollywood of today and that of a bygone era. Please, John Wayne seems to be saying as Leone and Morricone and Clint and Jodorowsky circle the dark beyond the campfire, please let your babies grow up to be cowboys.

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The Man, the Problem, and His Manliest Movies – My Blog

The problematic John Wayne became a fierce force in American cinema as the designated leading man in a series of big budget films. In an era full of trauma and sadness, Wayne as an American symbol, represents a significant contribution to the world during the time of uncertainty and panic.

As his career elevated in the midst of WWII, he rose through the ranks as the single most popular actor in Hollywood’s history. The reason that Wayne had become increasingly famous was associated with his no-nonsense characters that male viewers related to and women gravitated towards prior to the cultural changes of the 1960s. He brought to light this persona of elevated masculinity that was culturally striking to watch. From Academy Awards to a rich career that very few have been able to achieve, the praise associated with his on-screen portrayals will live on through generations.
In a successful career spanning over 50 years and 169 movies, Wayne has had his highs, in addition to his fair share of criticism, which is ultimately impossible to ignore. During a 1971 Playboy Magazine interview, Wayne made comments speaking negatively against the African-American community and making a series of homophobic slurs, while directly addressing his belief in white supremacy. Some have marked this up to be a time sensitive issue, with societal problems and norms being completely different from what it is now (or is it?). The truth is, this stuff was said, and it hasn’t gone over well since the interview resurfaced, with John Wayne’s legacy denounced by many.
Taking a moment to separate the man from his artistry is quite a difficult task, and directly addressing the controversies of his past comments creates difficult decisions that can often lead to either supporting art and ignoring prejudice, or completely erasing history. What people can all agree on is that his work ultimately changed the scope of Hollywood cinema, and how masculinity and machismo are portrayed through verbal and physical modes of storytelling. Thus, instead of calling these films his ‘best performances,’ perhaps we should consider these movies to have the most macho roles from John Wayne, a problematic actor who presents culture with a fascinating way to dissect American masculinity.

6 The Barbarian and the Geisha

The Barbarian and the Geisha is based on the true story of Townsend Harris, an American diplomat who was sent to the country of Japan in order to serve as a U.S. consul member. Wayne plays Harris as he is met by residents in the small village of Shimoda who rejects his diplomatic status, prompting a cultural split in Japan’s mistrust in the influence of the west. Through all the social and political clashes, Harris meets a 17-year-old geisha by the name of Okichi, falling in love with her while she aides him in softening the division. Wayne was 51 at the time.
5 Tycoon

Hired by a South American tycoon Frederick Alexander (Cedric Hardwicke) to construct a tunnel through the Andes Mountains, American engineer Johnny Munroe (John Wayne) falls in love with Alexander’s daughter, Maura (Laraine Day). As Munroe faces challenges in making progress in the job he was assigned to complete, he also faces opposition in convincing the overprotective father of Maura (and his boss) that he is a worthy suitor for the man’s (20 years younger) daughter. Tycoon, like The Barbarian and the Geisha, feeds the male ego and fantasy of viewers, presenting Wayne (and the all-American male) as a sex symbol for much younger women.
4 Island in the Sky

Island in the Sky incorporates pieces of experiences from pilot Ernest Gann (later related in his 1961 autobiographical book Fate is the Hunter) emphasizing his flying career. In this World War II movie, Gann and the pilots he traveled with search for a lost pilot of the team in northern Canada. In the film, Capt. Dooley (John Wayne) has to crash-land his plane in the icy landscape of Canada. While setting out to fly supplies in England during World War II, Dooley and his crew fight to survive in the unfamiliar territory. Though it’s an ensemble film, Wayne continues his white-knight heroic approach to narrative form.
3 The Three Musketeers

The Three Musketeers, a modernized version of the classic tale, finds American fighter pilot Lt. Tom Wayne (John Wayne) traveling to visit his romantic love interest, Elaine Corday (Ruth Hall). Along the way, he gets involved in the war taking place in the Sahara Desert (between the French Legion and a group of Arabic arms smugglers) to rescue a group of legionnaires who were besieged by the opposition fighters. Tom’s new friends recruit him in order to help them efficiently identify the mole secretly working for the Arabic group, so long as they can survive the desert in an almost ‘characters against nature’ way. Again, the film glorifies and romanticizes the heroics of American militarism and the white-knight trope.
2 Allegheny Uprising

Jim Smith (John Wayne) leads a militant group throughout colonial America, setting out to discover who is supplying the area of Native American tribes with various key weapons. Smith suspects Ralph Callendar (Brian Donlevy) to be the traitor among the group, but there has not yet been any proof to support this theory. He strives to pinpoint the corruption among him and his team, as the British commander Capt. Swanson (George Sanders) disregards his concerns. Allegheny Uprising taps into the American fantasy and paranoia of fighting the British and colonizing Natives, and Wayne fits in perfectly.
1 Rio Lobo

The American Western Rio Lobo is set in a post-Civil War environment, and was the last film directed by the legendary Howard Hawks, concluding his American trilogy of Westerns preceded by Rio Bravo and El Dorado, which all uses the West to explore identity. As Cord McNally (John Wayne), a local Union leader, protects an incoming gold shipment, his fellow troops are suddenly attacked by an influx of Confederate forces. In this encounter, McNally looses the gold he was supposed to protect as well as his friend and officer who was killed in the raid. As McNally travels to the town of Rio Lobo, he learns the Confederate forces had direct help from the inside of his team. In his visit, McNally sets out to learn the identity of the traitors. Released in 1970, Wayne was playing to a wholly different American culture that had passed him by, and the film was a box office failure. He would make his Playboy comments the next year.

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‘He knew he wasn’t going to be around when I was older’ – My Blog

Ethan Wayne, John Wayne’s youngest son, talks about what it was like growing up with his famous father and how he’s keeping his legacy alive today.

Ethan Wayne said a day at his friend’s house made him realize his father was different.
The now-56-year-old is the youngest son of late Hollywood legend John Wayne and Peruvian actress Pilar Pallete, his third and last wife. He’s currently the president of John Wayne Enterprises and director of the John Wayne Cancer Foundation. This year, he helped release a bourbon based on the patriarch’s own recipe.
“I can remember going to a friend’s house and his mom said, ‘Hey Brian, go get the mail,’” recalled Wayne. “I went out and there were three envelopes. I remember going, ‘That’s all the mail you got? That’s weird.’ The US postal service would drag those canvas bags with lots of mail to my house. It was strange.”

Gettin' back in the lane with John Wayne's youngest son | by Jeremy Roberts  | Medium

Despite Wayne having an iconic movie star for a father, he described his childhood as normal — one that involved living in then-small town Newport Beach, Calif. with other families in the same neighborhood, surrounded by oranges and strawberry farms.
There were no security or bodyguards. John answered his own door and telephone. He was an early riser who exercised alongside his son and studied his scripts before heading to work. He often spent his free time on his boat, admiring the great sea he loved. He would catch his own fish and cook it on the beach, as well as interact with locals.
John was 56 when Ethan was born — and he made sure his son never forgot to do chores around the house.
“I can’t pick up a broom to this day without thinking about him coming out and saying, ‘That’s not how you sweep, this is how you sweep!’” chuckled Wayne. “And it was with this big push broom. And he wasn’t very mechanical. He was great with his gun, he was great on a horse and he handled boats really well. But if a car got a flat tire, he’d just leave it. And I was very mechanical as a young boy for some reason. I really enjoyed taking stuff apart and putting it back together. He really didn’t get it. He didn’t like motorcycles, and I did.”
Wayne said that despite his father’s high-profile career, John, who was aware he might be gone by the time his son was a young man, was determined to be a hands-on parent. Wayne described growing up on film sets and learning about the hard work it took to bring Hollywood to life.
“He took with me on location,” Wayne explained. “I’d be homeschooled down on location in Mexico because he knew he wasn’t going to be around for me when I was older, and that he would probably lose me while I was young, teenage man. So he took me with him when I was little. And one of my jobs was to load the car with all the personal items that he wanted with him when he would make a film somewhere remote. Or if he went on his boat, the Wild Goose.
Gettin' back in the lane with John Wayne's youngest son | by Jeremy Roberts  | Medium
“He would take his own bourbon, and that bourbon was the heaviest thing that I would carry. Everyone wanted to have a drink with John Wayne. I would also carry his packs of candy, special food items, shoes, gloves, jackets. Definitely bags of hats.”
In his lifetime, John or “The Duke,” as he was called by fans, made more than 200 films in over 50 years. According to The New York Times, by the early 1960s, 161 of his films had grossed $350 million, and when he died in 1979 he had been paid as much as $666,000 to make a movie.
As an avid outdoorsman, both in front and behind the camera, he is still celebrated as one of the greatest figures of the Western genre.
“I was 10 when he was 66 years old,” said Wayne. “[And] he’s on a horse, he’s running at full speed across open country, with a herd of horses running with him… he was a bold, outgoing individual who was full of life, constantly moving forward… And nobody sits on a horse like John Wayne does.”
John Wayne's son recalls growing up with 'The Duke': 'He knew he wasn't  going to be around when I was older' | Fox News
Wayne wasn’t around when the Iowa native, a former football star in high school who worked as a truck driver, fruit picker, soda jerk and ice hauler, first embarked on his career as an actor. However, Wayne said the rugged persona he embodied on screen was very much the real deal.
“I read stories [of] when he was first starting out and how he was very uncomfortable and felt awkward,” said Wayne. “He didn’t like the way he moved, so he talked to John Ford and met Wyatt Earp… He started taking pieces of these guys and putting them together into a character that became John Wayne, who was definitely part of my father. There was also fantasy. He was a heck of a gunman and a horseman, but he also certainly knew the craft of film and storytelling. We were never in a gunfight.”
John passed away at age 72 from cancer. Wayne, who was 17 at the time of his father’s death, said he drove John to UCLA Medical Center when he wasn’t feeling well. John never came out alive.
Before his death, John stressed to his family that the doctors attempting to find a cure for cancer should never be forgotten. He left behind seven children from his marriages and more than 15 grandchildren.

Wayne credited stuntman Gary McLarty, a friend of his father’s, for taking him under his wing and helping him cope with his grief.
“He would take me on a motorcycle ride or racing sometimes,” said Wayne. “He was [later] the stunt coordinator for ‘The Blues Brothers.’ And for some reason, he hired me. And it was in a time when I’d missed the last part of my junior year with my dad. When my father was involved in my life, I was good at school and things went well. But afterward, I wasn’t very focused on school… [Gary] gave me a little direction that I didn’t have. I’m eternally grateful to him. It probably kept me from making some mistakes.”
John recently lassoed in headlines for a completely different reason. In 2016, The Guardian reported California lawmakers rejected a proposal to create John Wayne Day to mark his birthday after several legislators described statements he made about racial minorities.
Wayne said he was also aware of negative statements made against his father due to him being politically conservative. He insisted John’s beliefs have been misunderstood over the years
“He wanted to work with people who earned their place,” Wayne explained. “He didn’t think anybody should get a job because he was a man, because she was a woman, because they were gay, because they were straight, because they were Chinese, African-American or Mexican. He thought you should get a job because you were the right person to do that job. Because you had skill and talent and you would show up and get the job done. He didn’t care what you were.
“Somebody, a Latina representative up in Sacramento, shot down a bill for John Wayne Day because he was racist. [But] he was married to three Latin women. It’s just crazy how things get blown out of proportion because he was really an open, caring, loyal, supportive man.”
Wayne hopes his father will be remembered for what he was — an artist.
“People look at him and they think one thing or another, but he was out there representing real people,” said Wayne. “Whether they were guys who came out here and lived in the West or went to war. He played those characters. He represented them. And they liked him. They still do.”

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John Wayne’s Son Couldn’t Watch 1 of His Dad’s Movies After His Death – My Blog

John Wayne is a legendary actor who successfully personifies Western movies. He has a very loyal fan base, but some of his critics claim that he plays the same character in every movie. However, Wayne delivered several nuanced performances over the course of his career. His son, Patrick, had difficulty watching one specific movie after his father’s death.

John Wayne starred in over 160 full-length movies
Wayne entered the entertainment industry working as an extra, prop man, and a stuntman. He primarily worked for Fox Film Corporation, but ultimately got his first shot with Raoul Walsh’s The Big Trail. However, the film was a box office failure. Fortunately, Wayne’s huge success at the movies would later come to be.
Wayne ultimately starred in popular Western and war movies over the course of the 1940s onward. Some of his most notable performances include titles such as She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, True Grit, and Sands of Iwo Jima. All together, Wayne starred in over 160 full-length movies over the course of his extensive career.

John Wayne’s son, Patrick, couldn’t watch ‘The Shootist’ after his dad’s death

Jeremy Roberts interviewed Patrick via Medium to talk about what it was like growing up in the Wayne family. He talked about some personal stories involving his father, as well as the collection of Wayne movies. The interviewer asked him if he had any difficulty revisiting any of his dad’s movies after his death.
“I’d have to say no to that question with the exception of one film, The Shootist,” Patrick said. “I couldn’t watch that Western as it was so close to reality. He played an old gunfighter who was an anachronism dying of cancer.”
Wayne plays J.B. Books in The Shootist, who is an aging gunfighter diagnosed with cancer. He heads into Nevada at the turn of the 20th century. Books rents a room from a widowed woman named Bond Rogers (Lauren Becall) and her son, Gillom (Ron Howard). When people pursue Books with questionable motives, he decides that he isn’t going to die a silent death.
Patrick continued: “Too many of the elements in there were just too close to what actually happened to him in his real life, so that film took me about 10 years to watch again [of course I saw it when it was originally released in 1976].”
Patrick Wayne thinks ‘The Shootist’ is his dad’s ‘finest performance’

Wayne earned Oscar nominations for his movies Sands of Iwo Jima and The Alamo. However, he wouldn’t take home the gold statue until his work on True Grit. Patrick believes that the iconic film isn’t quite his father’s best work. He gives that title to Wayne’s work in The Shootist, which he didn’t even earn an Oscar nomination for.
Patrick said, “When I did finally watch it for the second time, I have to say that it’s probably his finest performance as a pure actor, using all his skills and being more than just a cardboard cutout, but more of a real human being — a vulnerable human being — and I think he pulled it off really well.”

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